Ex-Bank Manager Pleads Guilty to Embezzling More Than $1 Million to Help Fund Shopping Addiction

Embezzlement totaled more than $1,050,000, prosecutors say, and triggered downfall of Winchester, Virginia bank

A self-proclaimed addicted shopper has admitted to embezzling more than $1 million from a Northern Virginia bank she managed to help pay for her personal purchases and credit card bills.

Court records obtained by the News4 I-Team reveal the woman's scheme helped knock the Winchester, Virginia bank out of business.

Donna Jennings, 44, pleaded guilty Friday to embezzlement in federal court in Alexandria. She faces up to 30 years in prison and a $1 million fine when she's sentenced next year.

Jennings told the I-Team her addiction to shopping was a factor in the crime.

During court proceedings Friday, Jennings acknowledged executing the embezzlement scheme while serving as a manager of the Winchester Community Federal Credit Union between 2001 and 2014.

In some cases, Jennings took money from teller drawers, according to court records. In other instances, records show, Jennings created a bogus customer loan from which she withdrew money for her personal expenses.

In a separate instance, court records show that Jennings broke bank policy by approving a large-scale loan to herself. "Between January 2013 and November 2014, Jennings fraudulently conducted 15 loan advances ranging from $5,000 to $70,000 each," those records said.

According to filings from federal prosecutors, Jennings served in a "position of trust" at the credit union, managing its accounting and reporting to its board of directors. Her embezzlement totaled more than $1,050,000, according to prosecutors, and triggered the downfall of the Winchester bank, located near Interstate 81 in Frederick County, Virginia. The bank held about $13 million in total assets.

"Jennings' conduct substantially jeopardized the safety, soundness, and solvency of Winchester Community Federal Credit Union," prosecutors said. "As a result of Jennings' conduct, the National Credit Union Administration placed WCFCU into a restricted status and invited another financial institution to merge with WCFCU for the protection of its membership."

The former bank offices sit empty in Winchester, and the signage is removed.

The Apple Federal Credit Union has taken over all of WCFCU’s accounts through a merger, and four of its five employees, a spokesman said. 

Jennings' employment at the bank ended in 2014. She told the I-Team she has not yet found a new job.

Her attorney said Jennings apologizes to those who might have been victimized by the scheme.

And Jennings and her attorney said she had already begun the process of making financial restitution for her embezzlement. Her sentencing is scheduled for April.

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